Film nabs $20.3 for first five days

Effects-heavy monster movie “D-War” grossed a jaw-dropping $20.3 million in South Korea in its first five days, according to distributor Showbox, narrowly missing the opening-week record set by Showbox’s “The Host” a year ago.

Cume through Sunday was 2.95 million admissions, just under the 3.17 million for “The Host.” Latter pic went on to take $68 million, the territory’s all-time record cume.

“D-War,” playing on 689 screens, has set off a culture war in South Korea, with fans waging an Internet battle against critics and others who panned the film.

Freestyle Releasing will open the English-language feature, about a giant snake that smashes up Los Angeles, in the U.S. on Sept. 14, under the name “Dragon Wars.”

However, there are doubts the pic will turn a profit. Budget is cited as $33 million, but the f/x have reportedly pushed that to $75 million amid rumors that distributor Showbox has staked its future on the movie’s success.

Meanwhile, “The Host” grossed a solid 8.39 million rupees ($208,000), selling 72,500 tickets, in its maiden week in Indian cinemas. The July 27 release, on 62 screens, is thought to be a first for a Korean movie in India.

Having preemed in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes last year, “The Host” disappointed upon release in some Asian territories. In North America, it took $2.2 million for Magnolia Pictures.

(Patrick Frater in Hong Kong contributed to this report.)

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